July 3rd, 2012
07:02 PM ET
10 years ago

RNC chairman: I'm not the GOP police

(CNN) - Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, said in a Tuesday interview that he would not abandon GOP Rep. Allen West, who said on Sunday that President Barack Obama wanted Americans to be "slaves."

"He does not want you to have the self-esteem of getting up and earning and having that title of American. He'd rather you be his slave," the Florida congressman said of Obama at a rally in Port St. Lucie, according to CNN affiliate WPTV.

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Priebus called West "one of the most dynamic new Republican stars in our party," and said on CNN's "The Situation Room" that he was more embarrassed by Obama's handling of the economy than the comment.

"I'm not the police officer of the Republican Party," Priebus said. "Allen can say what Allen wants to say."

West has a history of controversial and attention-grabbing remarks.

In April, he told constituents at a town hall-style meeting that he believes "there's about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party."

Last summer, he drew headlines for writing an email to fellow Floridian Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat, calling her the "most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member" of the House.

On Tuesday, Priebus defended the congressman in the context of the "slave" and "communist" comments.

"Allen West is an important member of congress from south Florida. I'm not going to throw Allen West in a ditch," Priebus said. "I think what's most important in this debate is where we are as a country, whether the very idea of America is going to continue and what Barack Obama's done about it."

The RNC chair also responded to criticism of Mitt Romney's top advisers by News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch. Murdoch tweeted of Romney, "Tough O[bama] Chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from team and hires some real pros," and Welch followed several days later, saying he hoped "Romney is listening to Murdoch advice [on] campaign staff."

Priebus did not chastise the high-profile Republicans, but argued that Romney's campaign manager would someday be known among the great political minds driving recent campaigns.

"They have their opinion. That's fine. They're respected people," he said, adding that Romney campaign manager Matt Rhodes is in the category of "political pros."

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Filed under: 2012 • Allen West • Reince Priebus • RNC • TV-The Situation Room
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. California Gary

    If you don't distance yourself from the nutcases in your party, you soon own whatever nonsense they spew. That's right there on page one of "Politics 101"..........it also is on page one of "Politics for Dummies".........

    July 3, 2012 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  2. rakez

    the democrats are pushing government dependency. if it looks like socialism, walks like socialism, and sounds like socialism then it's probably socialism. they ARE communists.

    July 3, 2012 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  3. Realitybites

    To whomever is in his district, please vote Allen West out this November. For us all.

    July 3, 2012 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  4. jake

    The more these republican's talk the more thier true colors shine through. Just keep talking...just keep talking. Then the people will see just what the gop are all about. Just keep talking the garbage you talk everyday gop....just keep talking. It's no wonder Obama is going to kick your butt's in november's election. Just keep talking.

    July 3, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  5. DJ Reality

    Really? Wow!! How can I tell he is not the chief RNC cop. The way he speaks doesn't show it.

    July 3, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  6. Deborah Alfano

    What does Obama want? It appears that he wants more people on the government tab so they will vote Democrat because their lively hood depends on those programs. More government employees, more people on food stamps, everyone on government run health care...the list is so long that that this country may not have slaves but certainly we will most certainly become serfs to the Kingdom if this type of government intrusion continues.

    July 3, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  7. Brehon

    "Allen West is an important member of congress from south Florida. I'm not going to throw Allen West in a ditch," Priebus said.

    Important for what? And it seems he regularly hurls himself into the ditch. Very self reliant in that way.

    July 3, 2012 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  8. Jules

    OK – no one is responsible for Allen except Allen, got it. However, the GOP should take a look at what it stands for that attracts the most hateful and vile statements in the United States. I don't understand how people can overlook this kind of thing and go Yeah, that's my party.

    July 3, 2012 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  9. Mm

    If the GOP had a collective brain among them, they'd fire Reince Preibus and beg Michael Steele to come back.

    July 3, 2012 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  10. Milton K. Wiah

    Even a member of KKK will never used such languages Allen West is using. Obama does not want Americans to
    be slaves, you advertise your own sale to the slave masters in the Republican party Mr. West. Even your name as
    a black person makes no secret of your slavery past.

    July 3, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  11. once upon a horse

    the GOP replaced Mike Steele with a spinless little wimp that can not speak up for himself and defends the GOP no matter what they do or say. Then again with a name like Reince Priebus what could you really expect. I was not always in agreement with Steele but I doubt if he would be afriad of Allen West and would not defend his use of "slaves" when talking about the American people. Of course Priebus is not the GOP police...police have SPINES!

    July 3, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  12. Indy

    He's not the GOP police but he sure thinks he is the,police judge,jury and executioner of the DNC and the President of the United States.Speaking of slaves,hows that trickle down economic plan the GOP loves so much working out for the majority ? It's no secret that Republicans want everyone to count on the rich to feed them.

    July 3, 2012 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  13. Larry in Houston

    sounds like allen west is out of touch – the reality IS, that romney is the one who wants the middle class workers to be "slaves" – – why do you think he sent Jobs overseas ? That's what the republicans has been doing for the last 4 decades, if they can help it. They absolutely hate it, if some of us people have a decent Job, working every day, Live in a 3 bedroom house w/ 2 used cars, and a carport, raising 2 or 3 kids, sending them to school, buying their clothes / books / food & etc. They would rather take your Job overseas, where people that live on 5 bucks a day, live in huts, and Give Them those Jobs. It's all about their bottom line. In reality, they really don't care about the middle class working people.
    Vote – Democrat – 2012 – (for the middle class working people)

    July 3, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  14. CRAIG

    The shocking thing about what West said is that many people actually believe it. It's a wonderful age of enlightenment in which we live.

    July 3, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  15. kayla

    please don't act the way you look

    July 3, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  16. John the Historian

    Well since Republicans are slaves now to the Christian Right it is quite ironic they picked Willard as their standard bearer since he is a mormon cult follower. I wonder if Republicans will now see the prophets in Salt lLke City as their new religious leaders or if Pat Robertson and anti-semitic Billy Graham will stay their new leaders.

    July 3, 2012 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  17. Carlos

    He can't throw West under the bus because he would have to throw so many other Repubs under the bus. There were be so many under the bus that the bus wheels would not touch the ground.

    July 3, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  18. Hindsight 20/20

    These people are just plain ridiculous.

    July 3, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  19. Jane

    You know, I was going to attempt a comment about this article, but it's glaringly obvious to me that neither of these two 'men' is worth a minute of my time. My cats have more brains and class.

    July 3, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  20. TAK

    Priebus is merely a symbol of how far today's GOP has degenerated. I am actually not clear about what the Republicans are getting for those big bucks they are paying this clown.

    July 3, 2012 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  21. The Other Dale

    Is there any Republican left that has a backbone? Anyone to stand up for what is decent and mature? It is coming to the point where there will be violence against others and all the Republicans will respond with is, "it's Obama's fault that he didn't do things our way and it came to this." Completely gutless. Completely and absolutely gutless.

    July 3, 2012 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  22. Former Republican, now an Independent

    You can't expect a fanatic like Priebus to police extremists like West. If this were so, Priebus would have to look outside of the current day republican party to find a candidate with any common sense.

    July 3, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  23. Smitty77

    As we watch the different political parties in Iraq kill each other, our parties seem to put out the same venom but stop short of the killing. However, the nastiness is hard to understand. So we have different opinions. That doesn't make the other person an idiot and worse names. To say that Obama wants to enslave Americans is so rediculous that I would hope the speaker would be seen as the village idiot and voted out of office!

    July 3, 2012 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  24. Marie

    'One of the most dynamic new Republican stars in our party?" Is this guy serious? More proof that the republican party has gone to Hell!!

    July 3, 2012 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  25. NameSam

    Let's hope the Republican party chairman is as forgiven when the shoe is on the other foot. Great politicians are measured not by denying an obvious problem; but by the way they deal fairly with issues from within their own in manners that show integrity.

    July 3, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
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